In my last post entitled 4 Elements of a Link-Building Infrastructure, I mentioned there are best-practices in creating a customized link-building infrastructure that can be separated into four areas:
- easily gained links regardless of target market
- high-value links directed to your target market
- Link Bait – creative link-building campaigns that attract links automatically
- Link opportunities that are gleaned from the competition
Today I offer some tips on how to gain high-value links that can be seen by your target audience.
To target your link-building specifically toward your target market(s) requires research to identify the top influencers and authorities in your industry or product categories. Rather than setting out blindly, it is important to determine who you want links from.
In the case of my client, the target market is buyers of luxury sports apparel and luxury sports gear for 20 sports, so creating a prospect list from the following would be a good place to start:
- Top bloggers in each sport category (tennis, golf, running, etc.)
- Top bloggers related to sports gear and sports apparel products
- Top authority websites for each sport, sports gear and sports apparel
- Top luxury bloggers, media and non-competitive sites
- Top reporters and media sites covering your industry and product/service categories
- Maximizing other resources such as customers, site visitors, network contacts, prospective vendors, tangential industries, etc.
Keep in mind that the most valuable links are links created by the linking site’s publisher because of an emotional reaction – she saw something of value that she wanted to make available to her web traffic. In most cases, this will not be product information, but unique, relevant and valuable content that she knows her readers will enjoy. (Tune-in for an exhaustive list of ideas next time.)
As usual, creating relationships is the key. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. Taking the time to do research, initiating contact, nurturing relationships and offering compelling new content is the process for acquiring high-value links from these authorities.
Researching high-value link prospects is not difficult. It can be done routinely in-house by subscribing to RSS feeds and alerts based on keywords such as (in my client’s case) “luxury blogs,” “cycling forum,” “looking for guest bloggers” (by category), etc. This alone can identify dozens of high-authority prospects to contact. The key is to take the time to do the research to identify topically related authorities rather than launching right into it.
AllTop is a blog directory that can find hundreds of top blogs in any category.
Approaching the contact should be direct and straight forward. Most effectively, it’s done by a company employee, not a third-party service. Offer your value proposition and examples of the compelling content this is consistent with your brand that may resonate with his/her subscribers. Remember the goal should be to get links pointing to individual pages using anchor text on the link-from page that matches your page’s primary keyword.
When external links are most effective
Maximizing the Link juice coming to you from external links is the key. Without diving into the technical details behind how link juice is allocated, greater link juice is derived by having links on pages with the following attributes:
- Pages that have content relevant to your site
- Pages that have a high PageRank (Here’s a link that can check PageRank for any page on the web.)
- Pages that contain quality content
- Pages that appear high in organic search engine results page, i.e. SERPs
- Pages that have user-generated content
- Pages that have relatively few outbound links
- Pages that are popular with social media audiences, i.e. they are mentioned often in social media (A great tool that tracks mentions)
- Pages that have your keyword-optimized anchor text that matches the primary targeted keyword on the page it points to
When external links to your site are least effective
- Paid links
- Pages that have “no-followed” the link to your site
- Pages with irrelevant or poor content
- Pages that have a lot of links
- Pages that are not indexed by the search engines
- Links obtained swapping links. When you link to someone’s site in return for them linking to your site, it cancels the impact.
- Links from un-ranked sites with little or no content
Next up will be a post on the 3rd piece of the link-building infrastructure, creating Link Bait – campaigns that house your link that are so great that they can attract links automatically.